17 Volume 6, No. 2, July 1933

notesVolume 6 No. 2 – July 1, 1933

All material courtesy of the National Park Service.These publications can also be found at http://npshistory.com/
Nature Notes is produced by the National Park Service. © 1933.


The Snow Accumulation of 1907 Compared to that of 1933

By Earl W. Count, Ranger-Naturalist

“At Park Headquarters the snowfall for the winter measured 73 feet 3 inches, and the Rim Area probably received from 1/4 to 1/3 again as much.”

To which responds the “whew-w-w” of the visitor; whereupon the ranger adds in a loftily casual manner, “Yes, we are getting back to normal.”

In the Information Bureau there hangs a picture of the party given on Victor Rock in honor of Secretary of the Interior James Garfield. The date is July 18, 1907. On July 12, 1933, several ranger-naturalists compared the background of this picture with the current conditions. Patch for patch the snowfields were very readily identified on Mt. Scott and Garfield Peak. And immediately it became obvious that on July 18, 1907 more snow remained on the slopes than still existed on July 12, 1933.

How Fast is the Rim Retreating?

By Earl W. Count

Immediately behind the group in the photograph stand three trees close together. But today they are gone. The stump of one now projects over the rim of the funnel-like amphitheater immediately east of the Information Bureau. According to Judge Steel, the present U. S. Commissioner and affectionately called “The Father of Crater Lake”, who gave the party on that day in 1907, there was at that time ten feet more of rim, as well as the now vanished three trees.

At the head of this amphitheater the rim area itself is depressed, so that melting snow from the rim drains off over the amphitheater-shaped rim slope. The concentration of this water into several streamlets affords those frequent landslides at this time which attract the attention of visitors and cause them to lean out over the parapet at the Sinnott Memorial. So works the relentless erosive forces of Nature gradually accomplishing the recession of the rim of Crater Lake. Undoubtedly it is this unevenness in the distribution of morainal material over the rim area that accounts for the formation of the amphitheater in the first place. In the course of the ages to come, probably such amphitheaters as this will father the development of steep, V-shaped valleys converging upon a shallower “Crater Lake”; and that lake of the future will occupy but the center of a much broader, shallower basin-valley than the rugged precipices of Crater Lake now enclose.

The Lake and Moods of May

By David LeC. Evans, Ranger-Naturalist

March, it is said, comes in like a lion and departs like a lamb, but at Crater this year it has continued like the proverbial lion until the last few days of may. These last few days have brought out the fact that nowhere can spring be more glorious than up here above the snowline.

This combination of perdition and heaven, climatically speaking, has revealed the lake in two very distinctive moods. The numerous unfortunates who arrived before this return of spring were lucky to see the lake at all, for as it snowed and rained, banks of vapor and cloud were whipped down into the huge caldron, hiding from view the then turbulent waters of the lake. Let us consider the description of this phase sufficient, despite its briefness. It is the stormy and disappointing mood.

On the other had, those fortunate who have been viewing the lake during this last week of May, have departed with a picture never to be forgotten. Standing on the top of a fifteen foot snowbank, they gaze, in the brilliant sunlight, into a gigantic blue mirror, set in sloping frame of glistening white, spotted with tints of green, red and brown. There are two Wizard Islands, a duo of Hillman Peaks, massive Llao Rock stands majestically, capped with a white, musing over its reflection in the blue waters at its base. Not a breath of air stirs, and all is silence except for the distant ‘swish’ of sliding snow. Only on such a day could Joaquin Miller have called this the “Silent Sea”.

As interesting as the lake, itself, are the snowbanks at the water’s edge and their reflections. It takes little imagination to see that the base of Dutton Cliff a series of very ornate arrows, unfortunately, not pointing towards true north but due east…..


A perfect butterfly of the swallow tail variety, perfect in every detail, spends the entire day, floating easterly below Cloudcap, but is ever stationary…..

Our Wineglass of the eastern end of the lake stand erect, and then “bottoms up” on the blue-clothed table…..

For a person of geological mind, the imagination runs rife. A great creature of the Mesozoic period is seen flying south, an Ichthyosaur (what a name!) with a triangular head and great expanse of wing.

A gigantic fish of ancient vintage (Paleozoic) pursues friend Pterosaur, but can never cut down that constant gap that separates them…..

The ornate arrows suggest the early Indian visitors to Crater Lake, as does the upper half of a war shield of very intricate and detailed design.

In conclusion, such stillness leas to that common question, “What, the lake is never coated over with ice? How very strange,” Invariably the answer is concluded “- – – but occasionally there is a slush ice.” We could give as the reason for this lack of ice two factors: (1) In a deep lake the later at the surface, as it approaches the freezing point become heavier and sinks. The warmer water beneath rises and this continuous vertical circulation assists in preventing the formation of ice at the surface; and (2) the ever present winter storms keep the surface in such a state of agitation, that ice cannot form. This last week in may has made the latter pint a strong one, for during this cold week, still weather, a definite slush ice has been observed on the surface, in the early morning.